I turned around and all of a sudden, it is June. May is over and we lived through it, full as it was with both the deepest sorrow and the deepest joy.
I had forgotten how easily the days slip away with an infant. I had forgotten that feeling of reaching evening and wondering what in the world you’ve spent the day doing. But I’d also forgotten how heavenly it is to spend the day doing nothing but snuggling and ogling this tiny creature that you created with love, so heavenly that you don’t really care whether you did anything else. But I have missed having the time and energy to write. Sometimes I have the time, but not the energy, and others, the energy but not the time. So I look forward to the moments, like now, when I’m gifted both at the same time.
These first (almost) ten days with our boy are practically indescribable. In so many ways, I feel like Alice falling down the rabbit hole, living these days with a newborn again, remembering more and more each day about what Hudson was like at this age, and missing her ever more and more because of it. Each time he does something she did at this stage or does something differently than she did, each time one of “her” songs comes on the iPod and we smile and cry all at the same time, each time I catch a glimpse of him looking so much like her, it’s like someone is taking the knife and twisting it again into my poor heart. And thinking ahead to the many moments in front of us, when he will reach all the same milestones she did, and then one day, when he will start reaching ones she never did—it’s almost too hard to contemplate. Tuesday and Wednesday were particularly hard for some reason—I was overcome with tears almost every time I glanced at a photo or thought about her for longer than a few seconds (which is very often, of course). It is particularly hard given that the world we are living in right now is so very different than it should be, and yet I have no idea what a world with a two-and-a-half-year-old and a newborn would be like. Just as I long ago stopped being able to imagine what Hudson would be like now, I can’t really imagine what our lives would be like if she were here with us during this time. Which makes it an even harder loss to grieve in some ways, I think. As it is, we are at home with a newborn again. We’ve done this before. Obviously, Jackson is a very different baby and does many things his own way, but fundamentally, much of this experience is the same. And being here now, in this world, with this baby, and without my Hudson here, almost makes it seem as though Hudson herself was no more than a very vivid and very wonderful dream. Maybe it is just still too difficult to accept two very incongruous realities—that indeed, she was here, for a glorious 17 months and 12 days, during which she filled us with so much joy and love and laughter and filled the world with light, and yet at the same time, she is now very much gone. It’s almost easier to think that it was just a dream than to accept those realities.
And just as I imagined, although the anxiety has lessened significantly since Jackson was born, since I am no longer the sole person in charge of his well-being, it still persists. We’ve already taken his temperature twice, poor thing (totally normal both times, of course). And I spent the last several days worrying that his breathing was odd (if you know anything about newborns, you know that they breathe fairly irregularly for a while, and generally breathe faster than adults in the first place). I kept counting his respirations and looking for signs that his skin was turning purple, convinced that he was having trouble pumping enough oxygen to his body. He is always falling asleep at the breast, which can be a sign that he is not getting enough oxygen (but of course, he’s still eating and peeing and pooping plenty, and is clearly chunking up). I finally called the pediatrician yesterday just to get her to reassure me that sporadic rapid breathing is totally normal and that we only need to worry if the fast breathing is constant. The worst part about these anxieties is that ultimately, they trigger these PTSD-like responses that I often get in certain circumstances that remind me of Hudson’s illness. In this case, I have so very unfortunately been brought back to those awful moments in the wee hours of May 10 when I was making the decision about whether to take Hudson to the emergency room or wait a few hours for the pediatrician. I’ve had a few of those torturous moments that I haven’t had in a long while, wondering for the millionth time whether I could have saved her life and wishing with all my might for some way to go back in time and fix it somehow. Just like when I was pregnant with Jackson, I fear that I may never fully trust my instincts again. I can only hope that it will start to feel better once Jackson passes out of this very fragile stage of infancy, but who knows.
But then there’s my Jackson. My precious, sweet, beautiful little boy. Just looking at him, smelling that sweet baby smell, touching that softest of baby skin, watching for those little gassy smiles that we like to believe are real—all of these things, piece by piece, lift the weight from my shoulders, even if only for a while. But it is enough. It is probably more than I deserve to ask for. So far, he is just an exceedingly good baby. He fusses only when hungry and when getting his diaper changed and every once in a while when he’s gotten too sleepy and we haven’t let him get to sleep. And wow, can this boy sleep. Obviously the only baby I have to compare him to is Hudson, and she was just so very alert and wanting to be part of the action from the moment she emerged from the womb. She certainly slept a fair amount as an infant, but often times getting her to fall asleep and then stay asleep anywhere other than in someone’s arms was almost impossible. Not so this little boy. He’s easily moveable from arms to the bouncer or co-sleeper most of the time. Sometimes, if we catch him in the right window, he will even fall asleep on his own. In a feat that I still can’t even believe, he’s currently napping, swaddled, in his own crib, having fallen asleep with just the tiniest amount of help. And he sleeps like a champ at night, too, easily sleeping swaddled in the co-sleeper next to me, waking only for feedings every 3-4 hours (and sometimes I have to wake him even for those). Fortunately, like his big sister, he enjoys sleeping in for another two or three hours after the early morning feeding at 6 or 7AM, time I always enjoyed so much with Hudson and am already loving with him. And when he’s awake, he’s mostly content just to snuggle with us or stare wide-eyed at us and everything around him as he takes in the world. He’s an excellent nurser, having latched on with no problem at all only 25 minutes after he was born and it was all downhill from there. By the second or third night at home, we’d already mastered side-lying nursing in the bed, something I didn’t try with Hudson until much, much later, but a trick that helps everyone get so much more sleep. He can’t hold his head up yet (Hudson did this the moment she came out of the womb!), but he can already do half-push ups on his arms and lift and turn his head from side to side when he’s on his tummy. He loves music, just like his big sister, and dancing with Daddy in the kitchen has already become a favorite morning activity. And he loves being outside—at the few times when he has gotten really fussy, all we have to do is take him outside into the warm air with the car noise and the breeze and he quiets immediately. He’s like his big sister that way, too (although since Hudson was born in December, her love for being outside wasn’t revealed until she was a few months old).
All in all, more sunshine than tears. A lot more, as a matter of fact. And in the midst of what could be an overwhelmingly sad time, that is One Good Thing.
Here are some more pictures of these early days with our boy.